Alternative lifestyle dating sites
The catch is that you can't use the site just to meet people online - if you miss three Footloose events in a row, then your membership is revoked.
Another Indian dating site is Truly american dating sites accessible to foreigners Madly, whose co-founder, Rahul Kumar, says the website is a modern-day matchmaking service that relies on "scientific methods" to match people.
"The website works on a social algorithm to connect likeminded individuals alternative lifestyles dating who are looking for serious relationships," says Kumar. "The algorithm is based on an exhaustive research conducted by a team of psychologists who have derived a set of personality attributes responsible for a long term, successful relationship. The site then matches profiles of people based on who they are, what they are looking for, instead of traditional matches based on caste or location."
A site that caters to both Indians and NRIs, Sirf Coffee has a similar approach, and takes care not to identify itself as an online-dating service. Its focus is on using the Internet to make it easier to meet people - offline.
The charges vary - Footloose No More has a free membership, while Truly Madly charges Rs.
20,000) per year as a membership charge.
Footloose No More claims to have 5,000 members, mostly from Mumbai and Pune; Delhi and Kolkata follow, and then Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Truly Madly claims similar numbers, while Sirf Coffee, which has a much higher cost of entry, claims to have around 1,100 members, of which around half are in India (mostly Mumbai again) and the rest are NRIs.
Scientific methods and curated meet-ups sound good, but most e-commerce ventures had to be tailored to meet the needs of the Indian market. Simply bringing international ideas to India has not been very successful. And that is why a lot of these websites in fact brand themselves as working on a "relationship management model" or "modern day matchmaking".
Take the case of Sirf Coffee, which uses the "relationship management model", and launched in 2008.
Sunil Hiranandani, founder, insists that Sirf Coffee is not an online-dating service.
"It is about getting to know a client on a personal level," says Hiranandani. "A user directly alternative lifestyle dating services meets a hand-picked date over a cup of coffee (or cocktail), and get to know them in person, as opposed to online."
Unlike online dating sites in the West, where there typically is a lot of interaction between people paired by computers until they actually meet, Indian sites seem keen to offer a boutique service of hand picking people to meet in person, instead of having to get to know each other through a computer screen. The stress is on helping you find long term relationships, and not just casual dating.
"We ensure a pressure-free environment where you can be yourself, deriving comfort from the fact that you and date tick each other's boxes," adds Hiranandani. "You can exchange numbers if you like, date for years, get married next week, or simply leave after a casual drink. There is opportunity to move forward, without the obligation to do so."
Footloose No More's curated events also keep the interactions offline. You can see people on the site, but you can't message them on your own. The site matches you, and brings you together at the "curated" events, so there is no "awkwardness or stigma". Agnihotri says these events help people come out of their shell, but allow them to take things forward at their own pace.
And indeed, people aren't all comfortable with the idea of dating sites, something that Truly Madly's Kumar says the company has been trying to change.
"We recently launched a social media campaign called Breaking Stereotypes, which was aimed at disproving stereotypes, thereby supporting compatibility and personal interactions among individuals," he says.
According to Kumar, people in India want "more choice in their matchmaking decisions, but don't want to tell people - particularly their parents - that they are registered on dating websites."
That's why sites like Sirf Coffee and the others try to sell the idea of a mediated experience, instead of online dating.
Agnihotri says that on Footloose No More every member who gets approved gets a screening call.
"He/ she must submit documents proving their authenticity," says Agnihotri.
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